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Facebook VP of Ads Criticised For Tweeting that Russian-bought Ads Had Not Been Designed to Sway the US Election (bbc.com) 263

Facebook's vice-president of adverts has been criticised for tweeting that Russian-bought ads had not been designed to sway the US election. From a report: Rob Goldman's tweet was retweeted by President Donald Trump. His view contradicted special counsellor Robert Mueller's recent indictments, in which 13 Russians were charged with meddling in the election via social media and other means. Mr Goldman is reported to have apologised to Facebook staff. In a series of tweets, Mr Goldman said that Russia's misinformation activity had been designed to "divide America" but added that "the majority of the Russian ad spend [on Facebook] happened after the election." However according to the indictment, the ads were only part of Russia's activity on the social-media platform. In the document, Facebook is mentioned 35 times. According to Wired, he sent a message to staff that read: "I wanted to apologise for having tweeted my own view about Russian interference without having it reviewed by anyone internally. The tweets were my own personal view and not Facebook's. I conveyed my view poorly. The special counsel has far more information about what happened [than] I do -- so seeming to contradict his statements was a serious mistake on my part."
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Facebook VP of Ads Criticised For Tweeting that Russian-bought Ads Had Not Been Designed to Sway the US Election

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  • by Kunedog ( 1033226 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @10:06AM (#56156770)
    Stop trying to make excuses for the Democrats' horrible candidate who couldn't win even though the entire establishment was behind her.
    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @11:11AM (#56157154) Homepage Journal

      Here's the thing about 2016 -- it was a very close thing. Just 1/2 of 1% of the turnout in three states (Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin) would have flipped those states. That's 78,000 strategically based voters -- not even 1/10 of 1% of the total US votes cast -- and the Electoral College would have gone the other way.

      The flaw in nearly every 2016 postmortem analysis I've seen is that they all look for the explanation. It's a situation tailor made for advancing pet theories: an idea that has any truth at all in it can quite plausibly be claimed to have flipped the results.

      So you can't rule out Russian meddling by citing Clinton's (unquestioned) weaknesses as a candidate. They could *both* have been decisive.

      • Statistically speaking, this is true. But look at it psychologically: each one of those 78,000 people is not only a unique individual with their own hopes and dreams and sufferings, which ultimately determines their vote -- a vote is always a hope for a better future -- but also they were hard set on one candidate and not the other, Trump in this case. Very few if anyone were on the edge: almost certainly whoever voted for Trump hated Hillary and the other way round. So then consider having a population nea

        • by hey! ( 33014 )

          Yes, turnout is where the big swings happen in a country where about 40% of the electorate sit out each election; it's not always the same 40%.

          Rural turnout was a big factor in 2016, and this speaks to the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates. Clinton, unlike her husband, wasn't good at projecting empathy to voters in rural districts ravaged by economic decline and the opioid crisis. Neither was Trump, but he was much better at projecting their *anger*.

          This also shows why Russian meddling may have be

          • In a wider sense I agree with you, the race was razor thin and everything mattered, the whole world was really choosing Clinton or Trump, even foreigners posting their valid criticisms of one or the other on Facebook must have had an impact.

            In some ways it was like the battle of Midway, the Japanese should have won but by some miracle the Americans did and that took history on a very different course.

            • by hey! ( 33014 )

              By the way I don't have any problem with Russians or anyone else weighing in on our election -- as long as they do it above board. If they can, as Russians, sway American opinions, more power to them. Pretending to be Americans, to the point of stealing American identities is a different matter.

              Again let me reiterate, the goal of Russian efforts seem to have been to undermine Americans' faith in their own country. It's quite possible they had no *intent* of swaying the election, what they may have wanted

              • I don't disagree. Russia is another nation, and if one nation can take advantage of another to better itself, it will. In fairness that's what Americans also do to Russians and elsewhere. The Russians probably expected Clinton to win like everyone else and were working to create chaos, not that we weren't capable of it on our own. But at the end of the day, Russia is still quite weak and is continuously looking for ways to survive, whereas the US is at the peak of its power. This is why I find the whole Rus

      • by Holi ( 250190 )
        Would it have been that close if 11 days prior to the election the FBI had not published that letter to Congress?
      • That's 78,000 strategically based voters -- not even 1/10 of 1% of the total US votes cast -- and the Electoral College would have gone the other way. ...So you can't rule out Russian meddling by citing Clinton's (unquestioned) weaknesses as a candidate. They could *both* have been decisive.

        Part of the issue is that knowing the strategically relevant districts before the election would be near impossible. Everyone thought Clinton would win. Everyone was basing their opinion on the matter on polls that had systemic problems in properly counting certain demographics. Russian meddling to effect those key strategic districts (only known after the election) and demographics is akin to a shotgun having the exact spread to draw a like A Sunday on La Grande Jatte. Again as you say, Clinton overly rely

    • Yes. Clinton was a terrible candidate and ran a terrible campaign. I think Trump is also a terrible candidate and terrible president (not to mention a terrible human being)

      Here is the issue that concerns me the most... People on left are banking on collusion with Russia on helping Trump win. Maybe they did. But they're not paying attention to HOW they affected the election. They didn't directly influence the election by meddling with election protocols, systems, etc. They did it by affecting the elect
  • He should have known better than to wade into a political debate. My guess is that he did know better, but wanted to curry favor with the Trump administration.

    • by RedK ( 112790 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @10:15AM (#56156824)

      Or you know, man wanted to tell the truth about get the facts out, and now he's being criticized because the truth doesn't align with the agenda one side wants to push.

      People are being used as pawns and acting like tools, not even realising how they are being manipulated.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ScentCone ( 795499 )
      How is telling the truth about when and how an insignificant number of Russian-bought pot-stirring social media ads were purchased "currying favor?"

      If he'd remained silent and allowed the left to continue to mischaracterize the situation, THAT would have been an example of currying favor - with the politically liberal monoculture that runs his entire industry.
  • The real goal or the Russian ads were not to sway the election. Either way the Russians were going to win. Hillary with the Uranium One deals and Trump with general of the cuff remarks. The ads were about discord. They wanted the Americans to be so angry and distracted so that Putin could get a strong foot hold with Iran and smaller former Russian state nations.

  • by newdsfornerds ( 899401 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @10:14AM (#56156822) Journal
    They didn't want Trump. They didn't want Clinton. They wanted discord and wow did they ever get it.
    • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @10:32AM (#56156936)

      They didn't want Trump. They didn't want Clinton. They wanted discord and wow did they ever get it.

      More importantly, they were sure (just like the Democrats, all of the media, most of the pollsters, and pretty much every foreign government) that Clinton was going to win. Their modest pot-stirring prior to the election was simply meant to chip away at any wider national support behind her when she took office, making it harder for the US to act cohesively against Russian shenanigans elsewhere in the world. When she lost, the troll operation simply realigned itself towards trying to stir up liberal haters against the incoming Trump administration.

      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        I also believe that many people did not vote for Trump, but against established politics. I have seen it in several countries. In Belgium they are called "Protest votes" and can stirr up a storm. Most of the time, due to the multi party system, they will get a few seats in goivernement and will trow a tantrum.

        It is a way for other parties to realize something is wrong and adapt their policies. Not as extreme as the protest party wants, but enough to make a difference. The most famous party recently would be

    • by taskiss ( 94652 )

      They didn't get it, we gave it to them.

  • by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @10:27AM (#56156890)

    I predict the case about the Russians won't go to trial. It's an easy prediction because 97% of Federal charges are plea bargained.

    They weren't even charged with "meddling" in the US Election [powerlineblog.com](52 U.S.C. 30121), they were charged with conspiracy to defraud the US (18 U.S.C. 371) and some paperwork fraud. The feds will be eager to avoid a trial on the conspiracy to defraud charge because its weak. The defendants will plead to the paperwork stuff because that's easy to prove.

    Facebook likes to pretend to do the right thing while always seeming to find a bunch of new wrong things to do instead. No doubt the next election will have similar ads with funding sources disguised enough to provide Facebook with deniability. The press won't care unless their candidate loses again.

  • First, sorry for this guy getting smacked for going off message. He should have known that Facebook Ad campaigns are serious money makers for FB and Twitter, and the business of "selling influence for cash" is what keeps social media alive. If we admit that a single Russian company of maybe 90 employees can sway a US election, well, then EVERYONE will want to buy more FB ad campaigns so THEY can sway the next election.

    Second, it's about time that we admit that the Democrafts colluded with the Russians to

  • by jbmartin6 ( 1232050 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @10:33AM (#56156944)
    First, his statement was correct that many of the ads were bought AFTER the election. Simple logic suggests they were not aimed at affecting the election in those cases. Second, his statement does not contradict the indictment, which note multiple goals for the Russian actors, one of which was simply "sowing discord".

    How long until everyone learns to ignore the Internet ignoramus mob?
  • by Virtucon ( 127420 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @10:36AM (#56156952)

    This whole "Russian Interference" paranoia is nothing new. The platforms have changed from Radio Free Europe/Voice of America to NGOs and Social Media. They do it to us, we do it to them and it's extremely cheap to do it because of social media. Take out an ad, program a few bots.. you have a disinformation campaign. The fact that this was overblown into the need for a special prosecutor is that we have a government run by idiots who were raised by TV programs and not by parents. Our new so-called leaders are caught up in endless tirades looking for anything that'll get them that 2 minute soundbite on the news but screw that, there's social media which greatly democratizes anyone's opinion no matter how ridiculous it is. Shit, 90% or more of what news puts out there is now social media generated or comes from so called journalists. Hey podcaster, blogger out there. Journalism, real journalism requires that you investigate, question and then publish not publish and hope it sticks.

    Yes, I'm an older American and the way our political system, our FBI, our DOJ, Congress, the WH and especially traditional media, all of it has been thoroughly adolescent and they all need to grow the fuck up. Our peaceful transition of government has now been forever affected because regardless of what party wins or who gets to sit in the WH, the other side will resort to crybaby, seditious tactics to get their way. Instead of being constructive and working on finding common ground we're all about lunatic has-been comedians holding up beheaded effigies for shock value.

  • Done with FB (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DogDude ( 805747 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @10:40AM (#56156970)
    Our company has decided not to advertise on Facebook any more. It's not an organization that we want to give money to.
  • Seriously, does the relevant law (if there even is one ... law, we don't need no steenking law!) actually say "meddling"?

    "And it would have worked, too, if it weren't for you meddling Russian kids!" - Scooby Hillary

  • by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @10:46AM (#56157000) Homepage Journal
    Why is an executive at Facebook using Twitter?
  • Between the haves and have-nots...might want to remember that when someone taking brides from wall street says they're not bought...
  • LOL your god-emperor is guilty as sin and it's just so hilarious to watch you all squirm as law enforcement slowly but surely closes in on him. The hypocrisy is staggering. Can you imagine if anyone on Team Blue had done anything remotely like Donald Jr's bald-faced influence-peddling in India? Just look at how they flipped their lids at the Clintons' charity foundations.

  • by DCFusor ( 1763438 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @12:21PM (#56157550) Homepage
    Because the people in charge of controlling the narrative got to me and what I said wasn't their line: https://phys.org/news/2011-10-... [phys.org]

    Please don't send me to gitmo for revealing this has all been a farce.

  • by Millennium ( 2451 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @01:17PM (#56157904)

    According to the most recent public intelligence, this assertion is technically true as far as it goes. The goal was to call the election's legitimacy into question and undermine the Hillary presidency that basically everyone thought was inevitable. The Russians got half their wish: they did indeed call the legitimacy of the election into question. The Trump victory was an accident: unanticipated, unintended, and frankly undesired (because they spent all this effort to delegitimize an enemy, but wound up delegitimizing an asset instead).

    And if you think about it, Trump's collusion with the Russians makes more sense in this light. It is a very poorly kept secret that Trump didn't want to win: he got into the election for the lulz, but didn't want the responsibility. He had no reason to collude with people who wanted him to win, because that wasn't his goal. But undermining a seemingly inevitable Hillary presidency? That's something Trump would be 100% on board for. This brings the goals of Trump and the Russians into alignment, and then collusion makes sense again.

    It has another effect, too. If we look at the goals in this way, Trump wasn't a mere colluder, giving aid and comfort to someone who might or might not qualify as an "enemy" depending on legal definitions. These circumstances would make him an active participant in the operations: a centerpiece of the psyops that went along with the hacking and fake news. That means he personally committed acts of war against the US, which is treason whether or not the people helping you count as an "enemy" for legal purposes.

    In other words, sure; the fake news and meddling wasn't architected to help Trump win. This is actually worse for Trump than if they had been, because it leads to a more solid argument for a treason charge: one that doesn't let him hide behind technicalities.

    • Interesting line of reasoning. Unfortunately, proving it relies on proving this:

      It is a very poorly kept secret that Trump didn't want to win: he got into the election for the lulz, but didn't want the responsibility.

      Which would actually be harder to prove than any sort of conspiracy, since now you're talking about motivations which resided entirely inside someone's head.

  • by edi_guy ( 2225738 ) on Tuesday February 20, 2018 @02:17PM (#56158342)
    The narcissism around Twitter and basically all social media is astounding. Every Tom, Dick, and Stacy thinks they are Elon Musk and changing the world because they have 5000 likes from ad-bots. Under what reason would any company let individuals tweet on their behalf about anything ever. And so-called executives, which based on their salary, should know better do it anyway until they eventually pull a 'Goldman.'

    Wired summed it up best:

    "At its core, Goldman’s mistake was a familiar one for Silicon Valley: An executive really smart at one thing seemed to think he was really smart at another thing. " --Wired 2/19/2018

  • ... then you have lost sight of reality. This has to be one of the most blatant examples of public censorship. And the forces behind it have clearly revealed their degree of intolerance and ruthlessness. People should be frightened by this. If you are gloating then you are part of the problem. If you are shocked then you then welcome to a reality you should be very afraid of.

The world is coming to an end--save your buffers!